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Stewart finishes second in consecutive weeks

June 25, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Stewart's second consecutive runnerup finish again leads Coca-Cola Family

The twists and turns of the road course in Sonoma put some fizz in the Coca-Cola Racing Family, with Tony Stewart's second-place finish leading the way.

Half of the red-and-white cavalry landed in the top 11, and four family members are Chase-ready, with another close behind.

Tony Stewart

Sonoma finish: Second

Season standings: Fifth

Call him top-three Tony. Stewart nabbed his third straight finish in second or third by rushing through the pack after starting 24th. He was in the top 10 after 50 laps, but he did not get enough gas to finish the race on a scheduled pit stop. A late caution gave him a chance to fuel up and get new tires to speed his way to a second-place finish. Stewart now has nine top-10 results in 14 races at Sonoma -- including five of the past six. He gained three places in the season standings.

What he said: "We planned on letting everything get settled down for a couple of laps and just going one at a time, so we had an unfortunate-fortunate break at the end. On the second-to-last pit stop there, something happened on plugging the fuel in and didn't get it full, so that second-to-last caution there we got a chance to come in for fuel and four tires and that got us up there. We just had eight or 10 laps fresher tires than those guys. We still had to fight our way through there. We had a really good car; we just took all day to get the track position."

* Addington attentive to Stewart's needs | Press Pass

Greg Biffle

Sonoma finish: Seventh

Season standings: Second

Biffle had a good starting spot (fourth) and a good finish (seventh) but wrestled with a loose car in between. He fell back as far as 22nd about halfway through the race, but he surged into the top 15 in the final 10 laps and inside the top 10 on the green-white-checkered finish. Biffle's two consecutive top-10 results have helped put him second in the standings.

What he said: "We had a decent day, but we were just too loose all day. We didn't have enough forward drive to turn the way we needed. We need to work on our road course program a little bit. [Crew chief] Matt [Puccia] made a great call to salvage a good day for us. It is disappointing we can't run any better than we are."

Joey Logano

Sonoma finish: 10th

Season standings: 15th

Logano is finding enough consistency to keep him in contention for the Chase. He started 14th and stayed inside the top 15 for all but 10 laps. Logano slid outside the top 20 soon after the midway point, but he zoomed inside the top 10 within 10 laps. He has two consecutive top 10s at Sonoma and four top10s in his past six races this season. With a win, Logano stands 12 points outside of a wild-card spot after 16 races.

What he said: "For a while, it looked like we were going to go green flag the whole race. I was like, 'Holy cow, this is impressive.' Then we had that one caution, we took tires there. I was able to pass some cars, follow the 14 [Stewart] up through there to a certain point and he kept going, which was impressive. We kind of leveled out there around eighth and stayed about there. Another caution came out, and we were on the other end of it, the guys that stayed out on tires with guys on new tires behind us. I was trying to hold those guys off toward the end of the race."

Jeff Burton

Sonoma finish: 11th

Season standings: 19th

Perhaps Burton found a little something to spark his season. Burton started a season-worst 35th and was 27th with 40 laps to go. He surged to gain a race-best-tying six positions in the final 11 laps, including four spots in the final two laps. Burton grabbed his best finish at Sonoma in five years and has top-15 finishes in six races this season. He moved up a two spots in the standings.

Ryan Newman

Sonoma finish: 18th

Season standings: 13th

He started 10th but spun early and fell back to 28th after 40 laps. While battling an ill-handling car, Newman would go a lap down, but he got the lucky dog with two laps remaining. A set of new tires helped Newman pick up five positions during the green-white-checkered finish. The 18th-place finish snapped a streak of four straight top 15s. Newman currently holds the second of the two wild-card spots for the Chase.

What he said: "It was a tough day. We just didn't have any side bite, and the car was just a handful all day. I wish we could have run better. The guys didn't give up and we made up some spots at the end, but we were all hoping for a better day."

Jamie McMurray

Sonoma finish: 19th

Season standings: 20th

McMurray's California adventure did not start well, with almost nothing to his liking in practice and qualifying. He started 25th, but the car seemed to get better. He got as high as ninth after about 70 laps. But McMurray fell off the pace and sank to the edge of the top 25. He was able to get inside the top 20 when the checkered flag flew. The finish was his worst at Sonoma in five years and cost him two spots in the standings.

What he tweeted before the race: "Brakes are better. Engine is better but we still need some help with the handling of our car. Mostly just need to be a little lucky today."

Bobby Labonte

Sonoma finish: 24th

Season standings: 26th

Labonte's recent string of decent finishes ended on the road course, though he managed a better-than-usual result at Sonoma. He started 18th, but a poor-handling car and a flat tire pushed him through the top 30. He was able to come back through the pack and gained four spots in the final two-lap dash Labonte got his fourth finish of 30th of better in his past nine Sonoma races. He stayed 26th in the standngs.

Denny Hamlin

Sonoma finish: 35th

Season standings: Eighth

Hamlin has been among the season's most consistent finishers, ranking in the top five with the likes of Biffle. He started 16th and made his way to as high as seventh before spinning out on Lap 94. He was not able to finish for a second consecutive week. Hamlin's worst result in 29 races since August in Michigan comes after a 34th-place finish a week ago. The spin cost Hamlin three places in the points standings.

What he tweeted: "It's hard to think of the positives after a day like this. Seems like every time I come here its the same story. Run great, get wrecked."

* Video: Hamlin spins on Turn 11

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